The following is a brief history of meetings regarding global water resources adapted from the World Water Forum Bulletin, a publication of the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD):

  • The 1st World Water Forum, held in Marrakesh, Morocco, in March 1997, mandated the World Water Council to develop a long-term Vision on Water, Life and the Environment for the 21st Century. The 1st Forum also cautioned against treating water as a marketable good, and prioritized: water and sanitation; shared water management; ecosystem conservation; gender equality; and efficient use of water.
  • The 2nd World Water Forum took place in The Hague, the Netherlands, in March 2000. The Ministerial Declaration identified key challenges for the future as meeting basic water needs, securing food supply, protecting ecosystems, sharing water resources, managing risks, and valuing and governing water wisely. In this Declaration, Ministers also agreed to review progress in meeting these challenges on a regular basis, and to provide support to the UN system to periodically reassess the state of freshwater resources.
  • The International Conference on Freshwater convened in Bonn, Germany in December 2001, in preparation for the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD), and addressed: equitable access and sustainable supply of water for the poor; strategies for sustainable and equitable management of water resources; integration of gender perspectives; and mobilization of financial resources for water infrastructure.
  • The World Summit on Sustainable Development: World leaders convening in Johannesburg, South Africa at the WSSD in 2002 took the MDG target on safe drinking water a step further by agreeing to also halve the number of people lacking adequate sanitation by 2015. Other water-related targets in the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation include the commitment to develop integrated water resources management (IWRM) and water efficiency plans by 2005. Governments, lending agencies and international organizations also launched several voluntary partnerships and initiatives in the area of water and sanitation.
  • The 3rd World Water Forum was held in Kyoto, Osaka and Shiga, Japan in March 2003, it was the largest water-related conference held to date, gathering 24,000 participants from over 170 countries. Following a two-day Ministerial Conference, some 130 Ministers adopted a Declaration underscoring the role of water as a driving force for sustainable development, and launched the Portfolio of Water Actions – an inventory of more than 3,000 local actions with respect to this vital resource. The “Financing Water for All” report of a high-level Panel chaired by Michel Camdessus, former Director General of the International Monetary Fund, was also presented, leading to the establishment of an intersessional Task Force on Financing Water for All. The Task Force will report its findings at the 4th World Water Forum.

Developments since the 3rd World Water ForumEdit

  • A number of preparatory meetings took place ahead of the 4th World Water Forum, including meetings of the WWC Board of Governors, regional and civil society workshops, meetings of the Task Force on Financing Water for All, and negotiating sessions on the draft Ministerial Declaration.
  • Regional and civil society meetings: Several regional and sub-regional meetings were convened to advance Forum preparations and identify contributions to the draft Ministerial Declaration, including the meeting of the Africa Regional Directive Committee (8-9 December 2005, Windhoek, Namibia) and a dialogue of Plata Basin countries: Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay (23 November 2005, Foz de Iguazú, Brazil). Civil society workshops were also organized in San Salvador, El Salvador, Buenos Aires, Argentina and Mexico City, Mexico.
  • Gurría Task Force: The Task Force on Financing Water for All, led by Angel Gurría, former Finance Minister of Mexico and incoming OECD Secretary-General, has met twice since the 3rd Forum. The Gurría Task Force, composed of representatives from NGOs, local authorities and financing institutions, will present a case-based report at the 4th Forum on progress made and challenges ahead, focusing on financing water for agriculture and new models for financing local action.
  • G8 Summit: At their annual Summit held in Evian, France from 1-3 June 2003, leaders of the Group of Eight (G8) countries adopted an Action Plan on Water to help meet the MDGs and the WSSD targets of halving the number of people without access to clean water and sanitation by 2015. In this Action Plan, G8 leaders committed themselves to: promoting good governance; utilizing all financial resources; building infrastructure by empowering local authorities and communities; strengthening monitoring, assessment and research; and reinforcing the engagement of international organizations.
  • Global WASH Forum]]: The first Global Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) Forum, held in November-December 2004 in Dakar, Senegal, sought to accelerate action in the areas of water, sanitation and hygiene to help achieve the MDGs. The WASH Forum resulted in the Dakar Statement, which outlines actions that need to be scaled up to achieve international goals on water and sanitation.
  • UN Commission on Sustainable Development: At its twelfth and thirteenth sessions, held in New York from 14-30 April 2004 and 11-22 April 2005, respectively, the UN Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD) focused on policies and options to expedite the implementation of international commitments in the areas of water, sanitation and human settlements. The section on water in the CSD-13 outcome document calls, inter alia, for: accelerating progress toward the MDGs and WSSD 2015 water access targets by increasing resources and using a full range of policy instruments such as regulation, market-based tools, cost recovery, targeted subsidies for the poor and economic incentives for small-scale producers; improving water demand and resource management, especially in agriculture; and accelerating the provision of technical and financial assistance to countries that need help to meet the 2005 target on IWRM.
  • 2005 World Water Week: Held from 21-27 August 2005 in Stockholm, Sweden, the World Water Week examined the relationship between infrastructure development and water management and governance, and the importance of a people-centered approach, which determines the type (i.e. “hard” or “soft” solutions) and the scale of interventions.
  • UN World Summit]]: Held from 14-16 September 2005 at UN headquarters in New York, the Summit reaffirmed earlier commitments related to water and sanitation in the context of the MDGs. It also called for assisting developing country efforts to prepare IWRM and water efficiency plans as part of comprehensive national development strategies to achieve the MDGs.
  • Ramsar COP-9: Held under the theme “Wetlands and water: supporting life, sustaining livelihoods,” the Ninth Conference of the Parties to the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands of International Importance (COP-9) convened from 8-15 November 2005 in Kampala, Uganda. Parties adopted 25 resolutions on a wide range of policy, programme and budgetary matters, including engagement of the Convention in ongoing multilateral processes dealing with water, and an integrated framework for the Convention’s water-related guidance.
  • 2005-2015 International Decade for Action "Water for Life": Organized by the UN, the International Decade focuses on the implementation of water-related programmes and projects and on strengthening cooperation on water issues at all levels. Priorities include: sanitation access; disaster prevention; pollution; transboundary water issues; water, sanitation and gender; capacity building; financing; and IWRM. Africa is a region for priority action.